Our winter routine now consists of a nightly pot of tea. Lemon or lemon-ginger are our go-tos. I often leave mine unadulterated, but sometimes there’s a couple teaspoons of honey, an additional squeeze of lemon, and, on the weekends (or after an especially stressful day), a splash of rum or bourbon. We sip this on our couch, curled up under blankets (Maki is usually wrapped up under two or three of these in an attempt to keep her nose warm). The TV streams episodes one after the next. We’re in full hibernation mode.
On a recent trip to the store, Eric mentioned that he’s been craving some ginger snaps to go with our tea. We bought a box and, while delicious, I couldn’t help but think how nice it’d be if I made my own cookies. Not that it’d be healthier, but, unlike other prepared items we purchase, baking a batch of ginger snaps isn’t terribly complicated. Now, I’m usually a fan of chewy cookies. A little crunch on the outside is fine, but I prefer them a little underdone in the middle. However, my goal here was to make crispy ginger snaps. And I wanted them to be little guys. A couple bites each.
This took a bit of work. I first made the dough, which I knew would result in a flavorful cookies, since I’d consumed half the bowl as I transferred it to the baking sheet. The trick was to roll the dough balls so that when they spread in the oven, it would only be a couple inches in diameter. Next, I needed to figure out how long to bake them for. Too long, and they get burnt (which happened a few times) and too short and they don’t crisp up. It’s a tough job, but I was happy to take on the challenge.
I’ve found that a number of ginger cookies don’t call for crystalized ginger. For me, I love the kick that you get from those little bits, so I’ve included some in this recipe. There’s no doubt that these are ginger cookies. None at all.
After weeks of meals loaded with butter, cream, sugar, and all those delicious and rich ingredients, I was ready to lighten things up a bit. Slaws are my favorite this time of year. Between the soups and stews, it’s nice to balance things by preparing a big salad with a zingy slaw. A little sweetness comes out through the agave and carrot, with a touch of tang from the lime. It’s got a lot going on. A ton of flavor; a lot of textures. And it reminds me to remain fearless in the kitchen. At face value, an ingredient can be intimidating. Approaching it with a little finesse, however, can transform it into something beautiful.
What can be said in New Year rhymes,
The new years come, the old years go,
We rise up laughing with the light,
We hug the world until it stings,
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
The Year, Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I failed at posting a Hanukkah recipe. I had one in my head but never got around to making it. I guess I’ll just have to save it for next year. This seems to always happen to me when it comes to holiday recipes. Even this post, a cocktail to ring in the New Year, almost didn’t happen. Vijay, Brandon and I had talked a few weeks ago about doing another What I Drink post, since we had such a blast with the first one. We’re a few guys who not only love food, but enjoy getting creative with our cocktails. And whenever a holiday comes around, you can bet that the three of us have come up with a creative beverage to go with the celebratory feast. But, as I said, we were pretty close to not succeeding in our second installment.
I’m so glad we stuck to our guns, though. Each of us have come up with drinks that use seasonal ingredients and somewhat underused booze. Brandon’s working with champagne and infused brandy. And Vijay did a little switch up by putting mezcal in his version of a Blood and Sand, and cranberries are always a wonderful addition to a cocktail, both in flavor and color.
As for this little concoction I mixed together, well, it took me a little while until I figured out exactly what I wanted to make. Originally, I had a hot toddy in mind, but I’d been anxious to try out this little cider syrup trick and I’ve already posted an apple hot toddy… so that was out. Then I considered doing something with mezcal (I know, I’m obsessed), but when I looked in our cabinet, I found that we were all out (GAH!). So, I went with Scotch. Despite my love for a little single-malt goodness, I’ve never had it paired with other ingredients. Well, I’m hooked now. Don’t be skeptical. Try it, and you will be too. Promise.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to whip up something for next week. I might just take a little time off. We’ll have to see. Then again, if there’s some free time and I’m inspired, you may see me pop up here. If not, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.
Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Enjoy your Kwanza. Or your Festivus.
Oh, and happy New Year.
We had our neighbors over for dinner on Sunday. They’re a lot of fun. By that I mean that they like to imbibe just as much as we do (and they’re really nice, thoughtful guys). We’ve been known to get sucked into the vortex of their porch, where wine is poured freely and in great quantity. A quick hello turns into a three hour gossip session.
When we lived in South Boston, we knew our neighbors but we didn’t have a close relationship with any of them. Most of them were pleasant. Others, not so much.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much about the whole neighbor thing until we’d been here for a few weeks and got to meet everyone. We live on a smaller, dead end street. Everyone’s been here for a number of years. Many grew up on the street, which I think says a lot about the area. They all look out for one another, helping with yard work or cleaning the gutters or shoveling. It’s all very sweet, in a Pleasantville kind of way. (Except this is Massachusetts… where everyone has a bit of an edge)
Well, I got off track a bit. Our neighbors. Dinner. Sunday. They came over (at 4, because I know our track record and figured it’d be best to start our martini consumption early). Eric smoked a duck on the grill, I made the sides. One of those sides was this roasted beet dish, which our guests enjoyed immensely. In fact, I knew these two were good people when one of them said, “Oh, are these beets? I love beets!” I hear so much from the naysayers (They taste like dirt! Beets? Gross!) that I was thrilled to have a fan in our midst.